Showcasing the diversity and career opportunities in biomedical informatics

New video series profiles unique career paths of graduates of biomedical informatics programs

Connections: Career Paths in Biomedical Informatics video title screen

America’s biomedical informatics training programs are preparing individuals from diverse personal, educational, and professional backgrounds for a broad range of meaningful career opportunities. These opportunities enable program graduates to leverage biomedical informatics in basic research, medicine, healthcare systems, and other increasingly data-driven areas. 

Among these training programs are 16 NLM programs at Columbia University, Harvard University, Indiana University, Oregon Health & Science University, Rice University, Stanford University, State University of New York at Buffalo, University of California San Diego, University of Colorado, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, University of Pittsburgh, University of Utah, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin Madison, Vanderbilt University, and Yale University.

At each program, individuals from incredibly diverse backgrounds come together for a distinct moment in time. These include computer scientists, statisticians, engineers, and data scientists who are interested in learning about and contributing to biology, medicine, and healthcare. There are also individuals from across the healthcare sector—clinical scientists, biologists, medical doctors, healthcare administrators, and entrepreneurs—who want to gain data-related skills to improve health and advance their careers. 

Program participants are excited to be exposed to individuals from very different backgrounds, learn together, and work collaboratively to improve health.

Yet, even as biology and medicine become more data driven, many talented people from wide-ranging backgrounds are not familiar with biomedical informatics and are not aware of the vast opportunities available for individuals with biomedical informatics training.

Nils Gehlenborg, PhD, and Alexa McCray, PhD, from Harvard Medical School’s Department of Biomedical Informatics, want to change that. In serving as co-principal investigators and producers of Connections: Career Paths in Biomedical Informatics, they have led creation of a video series highlighting the personal and professional journeys of graduates from each of the 16 NLM training programs.

In short videos and accompanying case studies, trainees describe their backgrounds and interests, and what drew them to biomedical informatics. Each trainee discusses why they entered a biomedical informatics program, how they chose their specific program, and memorable program experiences. They detail the skills they gained, research they conducted, and the most rewarding aspects about their program—which was often getting to work with a collection of amazing colleagues. 

Each participant also describes the opportunities that have transpired since completing their program, including working in research, medicine, healthcare systems, industry, entrepreneurial startups, academia, government, and more. These trainees explain what they are doing now, how they are applying their biomedical informatics training each day, and how their participation in a biomedical informatics program has affected their career path and their life.  

“Our goal in creating this video series,” said Alexa McCray, “Is to inspire people from very different situations to learn what this field is all about.” Nils Gehlenborg concurred, explaining, “The video series is about showing people from diverse backgrounds who go on to very diverse places. It is about showcasing the diversity of the field, the collaborative nature of these programs, and the meaningful contributions that trainees are making.” Gehlenborg believes some students and professionals will see these videos and say, “Wow, I didn’t know this field existed. It is a perfect fit for me.”

Featured as part of this series is Chase Parsons, who received a master's in biomedical informatics from Harvard Medical School in 2018. Prior to entering this program, Chase was a doctor of osteopathic medicine and was a pediatrics resident at Geisinger Health System. At Geisinger, Chase saw the use of biomedical informatics in quality and process improvement initiatives and became excited about the potential for the use of data in healthcare. Upon completing his master's, Chase became an instructor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and physician lead for informatics prescriber education and clinical decision support at Boston Children’s Hospital.  

Each participant in this video series is motivated by the opportunity to use data and biomedical informatics to make a positive difference in an area of personal and professional interest, which is different for each person but might be in academia, industry, or the public sector. Without exception, these individuals encourage others to join them in this exciting, collaborative field, where the possibilities are endless.

To learn more:

  • View all 16 videos in the series at http://connections.careers
  • See the video about Chase Parsons and his experience at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital: http://connections.careers/4/
  • Contact Rebecca Fitzhugh (rebecca_fitzhugh@hms.harvard.edu) about the NLM training program at Harvard Medical School. 

  

This project was funded by the National Library of Medicine Administrative Supplement Funds to the Harvard Medical School Biomedical Informatics and Data Science Training program 3T15LM007092-26S1. The videos are available under the CC-BY 4.0 license.